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New research into workplace culture has explored that employees with higher levels of autonomy in their work triggered positive effects on their overall well-being and higher levels of job satisfaction.

Researchers at the University of Birmingham, Business School investigated using two separate years of data for 20,000 employees from the Understanding Society survey to investigate changes in reported levels of autonomy relative to well-being.

Published in the journal Work and Occupations, the study explore that levels of autonomy varied significantly between gender and by occupations.

It has also been reported in the report that management receives the highest levels of autonomy at work is 90% with ‘some’ or ‘a lot’ of autonomy in the workplace. Whereas professionals received much less autonomy compare to management, specifically over their working hours and work pace (40-50%); while lower skilled workers have no autonomy over working hours at all.

Dr Daniel Wheatley from University of Birmingham Business School noted:

‘Greater levels of control over work tasks and schedule have the potential to generate significant benefits for the employee, which was found to be evident in the levels of reported well-being.

‘The positive effects associated with informal flexibility and working at home, offer further support to the suggestion that schedule control is highly valued and important to employees “enjoying” work.’

The research showed compelling evidence to propose that male and female were influenced in different ways by the type of autonomy they encountered.

Flexibility in work hours and location appeared to be more beneficial for female which allow them to have higher levels of work-life balance.

Dr Wheatley continued: ‘The manner of work and control over work schedule was found to be more relevant to the well-being of female employees.

‘Flexibility in work location, specifically homeworking, benefitted women with caring responsibilities allowing them to better manage paid work alongside the household.’  

On the other hand, males appeared to be affected more by task order, work pace, and job tasks.

The study also argued that in many cases managers remains unwilling to provide workers with greater levels of autonomy and the associated benefits despite the reported increased in levels of well-being.

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